PowerPoint 2016 provides plenty of options to
format Shape Outlines -- this tutorial explores an
attribute that's rarely associated with shape outlines but can provide a surprisingly different look, especially when applied to lines that are
thicker in weight. This attribute,
Gradient Outlines is not accessible from the Shape Outline gallery in the
Ribbon but directly from the Format Shape
Task Pane that we will explore later on this page. Meanwhile, Figure 1
shows you some sample gradient lines. As you can see, these cannot be used everywhere but they still can be added in some scenarios.
Figure 1: Sample gradient lines
Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see a sample presentation containing gradient
lines in PowerPoint.
Follow these steps to apply gradients to outlines:
Open your presentation and
select the shape
that you want to format.
Alternatively, if you want to start from scratch, launch PowerPoint. You will see the
Presentation Gallery -- here, select the
Blank Presentation option to open a blank presentation with a new slide -- you can change the Slide Layout to Blank by selecting
the Home tab | Layout | Blank option. Then,
insert a shape and select it.
- We selected a Rectangle shape, as shown in Figure 2.
Selecting the shape brings up the Drawing Tools Format tab in the
shown highlighted in red within Figure 2.
Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.
Figure 2: Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon
- With the Rectangle shape still selected -- optionally apply
No Fill option, as
you can see in Figure 3. Also, to make the gradient line stand out -- change the
of the line to anything higher than 10 pt. In fact, 20 pt. would be even better. Then right-click the shape,
which opens the context menu shown in Figure 3.
Choose the Format Shape option from that menu (refer to Figure 3
Figure 3: Format Shape option
- This opens the Format Shape
Task Pane, as shown in
Make sure that the Fill tab is selected (highlighted in red
within Figure 4), then under Line section (highlighted
in blue within Figure 4) -- select the
Gradient line radio button (highlighted in green
within Figure 4).
Figure 4: Gradient Line option within Format Shape Task Pane
The options related to Gradient line within Format Shape task pane
are explained below, as marked in Figure 4 above:
- Preset gradients: Clicking the downward pointing arrow next to this
option brings up several ready to use default gradients (see Figure 5).
These can be either applied straightaway, or used as a base to edit and create your own
gradients using the other options available in this pane.
Figure 5: Preset gradients
Figure 6 shows shapes that have their outlines applied with a
Figure 6: Outlines applied with preset gradients
- Type: There are four gradient types available -- these are
Linear, Radial, Rectangular,
and Path (see Figure 7).
Figure 7: Type drop-down list
- Linear gradient types are either horizontal or vertical
gradients although they can be diagonal to any degree -- use the Angle option
explained later on this page to change the degree. Figure 8
shows some samples of the same linear gradient outlines rotated to different
Figure 8: Shapes with linear gradient outlines rotated to
different angle values
- Radial gradient types start with one color from a center position, and then merge into other colors towards the edge of
the shape they fill. You can change the position of the center from which the gradient radiates to either the center, or any of the four corners as
you can see in Figure 9. If your radial gradient has many
stops with contrasting colors, the gradient might end up
looking like concentric lines rather than smooth gradients -- that's exactly what has happened in Figure 9 -- but use a simpler two
color gradient, and you'll see more subtle results.
Figure 9: Shapes with radial gradient outlines centered from different positions
- Rectangular gradient types are the same as radial gradients in
all ways, but they spread out from a center position in a rectangular (or square)
form rather than a circular form. Compare Figures 9 and
10 and you'll understand what we are explaining! Again,
you can change the position of the center from which the gradient merges to
either the center, or any of the four corners as you can see in Figure 10.
Figure 10: Shapes with rectangular gradient outlines centered
from different positions
- Path gradient types again are similar to radial or rectangular
gradient types -- but they follow a path -- so a circular shape shows a circular
gradient, a curved arrow shows a curved gradient, and so forth -- see
Figure 11. Not surprisingly, a path gradient or a radial
gradient within a circle may look the same, as you can see in the bottom-left
shape in Figure 11.
Figure 11: Shapes with path gradient outlines
- Direction: With this option, you can set the direction of
the applied gradient to any of the available directions (see Figure 12).
Linear gradients provide 8 directions (see Figure 12),
radial and rectangular gradients provide 5 directions, and path gradients provide no
direction editing options.
Figure 12: Direction options
- Angle: Sets the angle of the gradient -- this option is only available
for linear gradients.
- Gradient Stops: This option provides you with a comprehensive
gradient editor, almost as capable as a mini-application within PowerPoint -- a separate
article is available on
- After applying required gradient style to your selected outline shape -- you
can see the changed shape outline, as shown in Figure 13. Note that
the gradient style has been applied to the Rectangle shape outline that was selected earlier (compare
with Figure 3, earlier on this page).
Figure 13: Gradient style applied to the Rectangle shape outline
- Don't forget to save your presentation often.
Click below to view this presentation on SlideShare
Click below to view this presentation on YouTube
If you use a gradient line on a shape that has no fill, you will attain
a simple look that will make the actual shape area transparent thus resting the entire focus
to the gradient line. To change the fill of a shape to none, look at our
No Fill in PowerPoint 2016
Gradient Outlines in
PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
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